BA Speaks: Revolution – Nothing Less! Bob Avakian Live Summer Van Tour

Snapshot of two days of the Los Angeles tour

July 18, 2013 | BA Everywhere |

Saturday, July 13—Day 3 of the BA Speaks: Revolution – Nothing Less! Bob Avakian Live Van Tour

The jury was still deliberating on the Zimmerman trial and we stayed tense to developments of the decision (throughout the day). We canvassed a progressive wealthy neighborhood (door-to-door), bringing BA to people in the midst of the intense situation in the world and calling on them to be part of getting this everywhere (particularly by donating towards the $20,000 needed by July 15th) to really make a difference this summer. We took the van up winding roads - into an area with big, beautiful houses and lots of trees. We split up into teams of two walking from house to house, each team carrying a striking display of one of the quotes from BAsics. We would introduce ourselves "Hello, my name is _____ and I am a volunteer on the BA Speaks: Revolution – Nothing Less! Bob Avakian Live Van Tour spreading the vision and works of Bob Avakian - the leader of the movement for revolution to fundamentally and radically change the world." Initially people were polite and listened but then dismissed us by saying they were "too busy" to talk. We learned we needed to quickly challenge people (on the spot) to talk to us because if "they are someone who is deeply concerned about the horrors in the world then they need to get into BA and donate so that others (throughout society) can do the same. This began to change the dynamics of our discussion: some shut the doors on us, others voiced their disagreements "it's idealistic"; "communism, that's never worked", "one leadership is wrong", etc. But others were very receptive: including a man after reading BAsics 3:22 said, "that sounds like Mao.” When we asked him what he thinks about that he said, “I like Mao.” We showed him the quote in BAsics where BA speaks about how we would do better than China under Mao and told him this is the red book of today he bought it on the spot and expressed interest in donating to the Indiegogo campaign and gave a way to get back in touch with him.

With those we spoke: one person had seen us the previous night at the Art Walk and was very intrigued that we were canvassing the neighborhood and after some brief back and forth said he could not donate but is seriously thinking about attending the July 20th screening of the film at the Central Library. Another had heard BA on the radio and considered himself a “social anarchist” but thinks BA’s voice needs to be out there contending in the world because people need to be discussing and debating the situation and direction of the world. He was unemployed and could not donate but is also planning to attend the July 20th screening. We received a $20 donation and 2 bars of chocolate from a woman who didn’t say much but responded well when we told her Bob Avakian is the leader of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA.

After canvassing, our plan was to attend another showing of Fruitvale Station on the Westside (in a middle-class neighborhood) and planned to agitate to the audience (as the credits rolled) about making these murders of Oscar Grant and Trayvon Martin NO MORE, the revolution we need to do that and the need for people to stand up and to get into that revolution and its leadership (as we’d done the night before in Hollywood). While in the lobby - two Black women (listening on their iPhone) announced to each other the NOT GUILTY! verdict in the Zimmerman trial. We introduced ourselves and got them some revolutionary materials. We quickly huddled and readjusted our plans: we began to agitate loudly (in the theater lobby), about this outrageous and unjust verdict that sends the message that Black people count for nothing in this society. We announced the protest on the other side of town and called on people to come with us. In this mainly white crowd, many people just watched and listened to the agitation, as the security guards began to push us out of the lobby. When we first started to announce the verdict, one person shouted out something in support of Zimmerman. As we agitated, another came over to tell us she supported what we were saying. We continued to announce this loudly as we went down the escalators, and several Black people who were coming into the theater at the time of the Fruitvale Station showing nodded in agreement.

We got to Leimert Park, a Black and Latino neighborhood, which includes a historic Black cultural area, and joined in with others already there gathering, speaking out, crying, fuming, seething. Some of the first people we encountered were a couple who had seen us and heard the agitation at the Friday night showing of Fruitvale Station in Hollywood, and before that had run across an interview with Bob Avakian earlier in the year – they grabbed a sign to hold up with a quote from Bob Avakian and were very moved by the understanding that Bob Avakian is the leader of a real movement for revolution we are building and they are entering into. Together with others who wanted to march, we marched down Crenshaw – the main boulevard -- and stayed with the people in the streets until the early hours of the morning – leading chants and speaking over the bullhorn about the problem and solution, getting out cards for the July 20th showing of BA Speaks: Revolution – Nothing Less! and passing out copies of Revolution newspapers to everyone on the streets, raising money for it as we went.

Monday, July 15—The BA Speaks: Revolution – Nothing Less! Bob Avakian Live Van Tour in South Central

We began our South Central leg of the tour in the Crenshaw neighborhood. Considering the outpouring of anger and marches from Saturday through Sunday, mainly in this neighborhood, but also national news like taking over the 10 Freeway, we were entering a different scene where the “normal functioning” of things creates a situation were people are searching for answers and open to considering radical change (paraphrasing “On the Strategy for Revolution” statement on “jolts”).

We started in the middle of a hot sunny day with not many people out on the streets. We drove around the neighborhood and found spots to park our van and a small pickup truck with our A/V equipment. One person jumped onto the bed of the truck and (with a bullhorn) began to talk about this unacceptable verdict that shows the whole system is guilty, and called on people to come down out of their houses to watch a clip from the talk by Bob Avakian and to donate to getting this everywhere. Volunteers from the Van Tour paired up and went into the buildings to knock on doors.

At the first stop, one woman began to talk about God and how we just need to pray to God. We told her she was wrong, that we can’t let this continue and we have to stand up, and we also have to get deeper and more scientific, to make revolution and bring into being a world where the Trayvons and Rachels can flourish. A young guy came over to check out the scene, maybe high school or middle school age. He listened a bit with some agreement with what we’re saying about this being unacceptable. The God woman began to say we have been fighting so long and she is tired of fighting. We said the fight has to go all the way to getting rid of this system and there is leadership and strategy to do that. The kid took the newspaper to read, but didn’t have any money to donate. The woman pulled out a dollar to donate on his behalf. As we continued to talk a little more, her friend came down from the patio where she’d been listening to the agitation and the film beginning to play. She opened up her coin purse and dumped it into the donation bucket. As the film played from the truck, a couple people on the street came over to check it out for a few minutes here and there. One woman saw the displays and came to read them. She read BAsics quotes 1:13 and 3:22 and watched a bit of the film then went to her car and came back with a few dollars in her hand to put in the donation bucket. We thanked her and told her this is an important way to be part of the movement for revolution and that she should get organized into this movement. She said, “no, no, no – I’m a Jehovah’s Witness – I’m not supposed to be doing this at all, but I support what you guys are doing.”

The second time we pulled over, a guy came over to check it out and talked with the volunteers for a while. He was very angry, very upset. He told us how his younger brother had been killed senselessly when he was 19 years old. As he talked, he began to choke up, with tears in his eyes. After his brother’s death, where the killers were never charged, his mother relapsed into drug use and they lost their house. He said his brother had always worn a hoodie, and when Trayvon Martin was killed he thought of his brother and cried for three days straight. This verdict was so unjust. He himself had been arrested at the age of 13 on a charge of conspiracy to rob a liquor store, a robbery that never actually took place, and spent 5 years in juvenile prison from the age of 13 to 18. He told us how he’d been reading the book, The New Jim Crow and learning a lot from it about the system and how it works. We encouraged him to get into BA, to channel his anger and pain into getting a scientific understanding of why things are the way they are, but also why it doesn’t have to be this way and how we have a role to play in making revolution to put an end to this situation. He took materials to distribute for the Central Library showing on July 20th and gave a way to stay in contact.

As we drove through the neighborhood, we saw a block where several young men were hanging out. We stopped the van and volunteers hopped out to talk to them and bring them over to the truck where we were setting up the flat screen TV. Many of them were glad to see us and supportive of what we were doing, but didn’t want to come over. One young guy did, and was joined by an older man who had come out of his apartment. They watched the first 18 minutes of BA Speaks: Revolution – Nothing Less! Bob Avakian Live – and when BA said “goddamn these muthafuckers!” the older guy laughed appreciatively. The young guy told us he likes us because one time he was pulled over by the police and two of our people were there watching and blowing whistles to make sure the police didn’t do anything to him. As he talked with us, the older guy went back into his apartment and came back with several dollars to donate.

At our final stop in the neighborhood this day, several young kids, ranging from ages probably 5 to 13 years old were checking us out from across the street. We went to go talk with them and they told us what they knew and understood of what was going on. One kid said he had seen on the news that protesters had stopped the 10 Freeway. Another, about 10 years old, reached deep into both of his pockets, pulling out two times to donate, and asked for a copy of Revolution newspaper.